Yes, if Turkey gets its way.
“With the rise of ISIS in West Asia, one is afraid to an extent that perhaps they might get access to a nuclear arsenal from states like Pakistan,” he said, as cited by Bloomberg.
Earlier this month, IS said in its propaganda magazine Dabiq it could obtain a nuke from “states like Pakistan.”
“The Islamic State has billions of dollars in the bank, so they call on their wilāyah [official] in Pakistan to purchase a nuclear device through weapons dealers with links to corrupt officials in the region,” the article read.
Although even the article says the scenario is “far-fetched” and political analysts regard the possibility as unlikely.
Pakistan as well as India rank poorly in terms of nuclear security. According to the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) nuclear materials security index, out of 25 countries Pakistan comes 22nd while India is 23rd.
Terrorism, the majority driven by Islamic extremism, has killed more than 55,000 people in Pakistan since 2001, which has given rise to concerns about the security of its nuclear arsenal.
Pakistan is also one of the few countries that is increasing its nuclear arsenal. US think tank the Council on Foreign Relations believes it has 100-120 warheads compared to India’s 90-100 and is developing a nuclear submarine capable of carrying nuclear missiles.
The Pakistani nuclear program began in the early 1970s in response to India developing its own atomic weapons, and in 1998 they successfully tested five nuclear devices becoming the seventh nuclear power in the world.
“Our aviation group over the past day has destroyed two militant command centers, 29 field camps, 23 fortified facilities and several troop positions with military hardware,” ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Saturday.
The Russian Air Force conducted 64 sorties and hit a total of 55 targets, he said.
He added that the Russian effort has “considerably degraded” the strength of the terrorist forces in Syria.
“During the initial phase of the operation, our warplanes have destroyed the biggest and most important supply hubs of ISIL,” Konashenkov said, calling Islamic State by its former name. This resulted in the “mobility and offensive capability” of the jihadists being reduced, he said.
The general said signal intelligence reports indicate that the militants are suffering from a shortage of fuel and ammunition after the Russian bombings. “Some of them are demoralized and are actively leaving the battle zone, moving in eastern and northeastern directions,” he said.
Konashenkov said that the increasing number of combat missions conducted by Russia in Syria is explained by the large number of potential targets identified and confirmed as viable by space and aerial reconnaissance.
Russia started its bombing campaign in Syria last week with a goal to provide air support to the government troops fighting against various terrorist groups, primarily Islamic State. This allowed Damascus to go on the offensive in Hama province on Friday.
The Iraqi government would welcome Russian airstrikes against Islamic State targets inside Iraq, although it has not formally asked the Russians for help, Air Force Times has learned.
Russia recently began conducting airstrikes in Syria, but the U.S. and Russia disagree over whether the air attacks have been against the Islamic State or rebel groups allied with the U.S.
The Iraqis feel that the U.S.-led campaign against the Islamic State has become too focused on Syria and has not made enough progress on the ground in Iraq, a senior Iraqi diplomat, who asked to speak on condition of anonymity, told Air Force Times on Monday.
The official accused the coalition fores of moving too slowly, thereby missing opportunities to roll back the Islamic State in Iraqi cities. Since more than 2,000 Russians are among the Islamic State’s ranks and Russia has experience fighting Islamic militants in Chechnya, it makes sense to include Russia in anti-Islamic State efforts, he said.
However, Iraq does not want the Russians to send combat troops to fight the Islamic State on the ground, the diplomat said.
The diplomat also sought to allay fears about Iraq’s agreement to share intelligence with Russia and Syria, saying the Iraqi government has enough firewalls in its system to prevent harm to the U.S. and other coalition partners. The Iraqis will also coordinate closely with the U.S. on how to include Russia in the intelligence sharing operation, he said.
What the Iraqis need from the U.S. is more M1A1 Abrams tanks to help retake Anbar province from the Islamic State, according to the diplomat. The tanks would give the Iraqi military the offensive capability it needs right now, he said.
Both the State Department and Congress have approved the sale of 175 Abrams tanks to Iraq. Before the Islamic State captured Mosul and much of northern Iraq last June, the Iraqi army had about 140 Abrams tanks.
An unknown number of those tanks were destroyed, damaged beyond repair, lost or captured. In January, a video showed a Kata’ib Hezbollah convoy in Iraq that included an M1A1 Abrams on a truck.
As of Sept. 24, the U.S.-led coalition has destroyed 121 tanks in Iraq and Syria, according to U.S. Central Command’s latest list of targets struck. The list does not describe what kinds of tanks were destroyed. The Islamic State has captured many of the Syrian army’s tanks.